A CONSERVATION project in the Cairngorms will use natural regeneration to boost biodiversity, while expanding and revitalising the area’s native woodlands.

Around 1,425 hectares of new native woodland, consisting of Caledonian Scots Pine, Birch, Rowan, Aspen Willows and Alder, will be regenerated naturally over the next five years.

Iconic Scottish species such black grouse, capercaillie, red squirrels and wood ants will also benefit from the native woodland expansion.  

Forestry Journal:

The landscape scale woodland expansion will take place in Glenfeshie, Glen Tromie and Gaick estates, right in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.

Environment Minister Màiri McAllan said: “This project is a huge environmental boost for the Cairngorms. It’s also a good example of combining public and private investment together to enhance biodiversity, whilst giving the local economy a boost too.

“Native woodlands and natural regeneration are an important part of expanding Scotland’s woodlands and this project will be a welcome addition to our national woodland creation targets."

The project is being managed on land owned by Scottish conservation and tourism business Wildland. It builds on the 2,300 hectares of  native woodland that the organisation has already achieved over the last 20 years.

Ms McAllan added: “Private sector investment in our natural capital is vital if we are to reach Net Zero. It is also important that this investment delivers for communities, the environment and the economy, as we have set out in our new Interim Principles for Responsible Investment in Natural Capital.”

A further 2,200 hectares of native woodland is anticipated to establish on the estates over a 10-year period, without the use of any deer fencing. 

The first five years of woodland regeneration on the project is expected to sequester around 159,000 tonnes of harmful CO2 over the next 100 years. This would be the equivalent of soaking up the emissions of 195 UK households every year for the next 100 years.

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Wildland’s director of conservation, Thomas MacDonell, said: “We are supportive of the Scottish Government’s new principles on natural capital investment and our work is very much aligned to this approach.

“Wildland has invested heavily over the past two decades in its work in the Cairngorms and continues to employ stalkers to manage the deer on the estates. This has enabled us to achieve 2,300ha of new native woodland through natural regeneration, contributing to climate change targets."

Scottish Forestry has awarded £1.3 million Forestry Grants Scheme funding to the project. Wildland has invested heavily in the natural regeneration of native woodlands in the Cairngorms, in excess of £5m to date.

Thomas added: “With Scottish Forestry support we are expanding our regeneration activity, adding to our own significant investment to accelerate the benefits to society achieved in earlier phases.”